Staystitching is a straight stitch sewn through one layer of fabric. It’s most often used around a curve to prevent distortion.
This is because the curve cuts across the bias, the stretchiest part of fabric. To really see this in action, cut a curve out of some scrap fabric and then pull on it. You’ll see how that curve completely changes. That’s much more extreme than what would happen to your garment, but you get the idea!
While staystitching is most often used around necklines, you can use it anywhere there are curves or diagonal seams that you think may become stretched out. It’s also often used on shoulders, because they’re cut at a slight bias.
4 tips for staystitching
- To staystitch a curve, set your stitch length to 1.5. Smaller stitches like this create a stronger hold.
The standard is to sew 1/8″ away from the sewing line, so if your seam allowance is 5/8″, then stitch 1/2″ away from the raw edge.
It’s important to staystitch soon after cutting out your fabric. Simply moving your fabric around a few times, depending upon the fabric, can stretch out curves.
For curved areas such as necklines, stitch from the edges toward the center. In other words, begin at one shoulder and stitch to the center front. Cut the thread, then sew from the second shoulder to the center front. This keeps the staystitching even on both sides of the garment.
Update: This post was edited to answer some of the reader questions in the comments! Thanks for the great questions.